I have a few questions for you. One is regarding your answer: "Does a person leaving the Christian Church need to be baptized again?" about a person leaving the Christian Church.
I talked to a preacher who is in a bit of conflict with a person who left the Christian Church on the same issue. He's in pretty strong disagreement about what you said about a person leaving the Christian Church, baptized in the Christian Church, being a member of the Lord's church. These were some of his arguments:
- In Acts 8:12 Philip didn't only preach Jesus but also things of the Kingdom of God. Because the Christian Church doesn't teach about the Kingdom of God what the Bible does, those who have been baptized by the Christian Church haven't heard properly. This is the point I think I may agree with, it seems like if someone who's been baptized and ends up in the Christian Church instead of the Lord's church didn't hear properly.
- He doesn't know of any examples in the Bible where someone other than Christians baptized other people.
- He showed me some scriptures like Romans 10:14-15 that talks about how a preacher is sent and called, saying that preaching requires authorization.
I'm still working to arrive at a conclusion on this, hopefully you can help.
Also, what happens to someone who comes to the wrong conclusion about something that doesn't pertain to salvation? Say someone thinks hell has different degrees of punishment where another person doesn't. Or listening to instrumental music in religious music outside of worship. In other aspects of they're life they living faithfully but just haven't yet arrived at the right stance on these kinds of issues. Is it a sin to honestly come to the wrong conclusion?
What is being argued is that a person has to have perfect knowledge before becoming a Christian. There is no room for growth.
The apostles were baptized and baptizing back in John 3. "After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. ... And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified -- behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!" ... Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples)" (John 3:22,26; 4:1-2). Yet these same apostles had the mistaken notion that Christ's kingdom was earthly until after Jesus' death. Also note that there is no record stating that the apostles were baptized again after Pentecost.
Your preacher is forgetting about John and his disciples who baptized. They did so to prepare people for the Messiah, and some, like Apollos, did not hear about the Christ until years after Jesus' death. When Paul ran into a pocket of these men in Ephesus, he did have them baptized again. "And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism." Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:1-5). Their baptism was the wrong one, so it needed to be done again.
"Now John answered and said, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us." But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side"" (Luke 9:49-50).
The Christian Church gets a number of things wrong, but they do teach and practice correctly about how a person becomes a Christian. I double checked and the Christian Church does teach that the kingdom is the church, so I don't know what this preacher thinks is being taught wrong on this subject.
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"" (Romans 10:14-15).
Of all the things you relayed, this is the one that bothers me the most. Paul is talking about salvation. People cannot be saved without hearing the Gospel message and that message cannot be spread unless people are willing to send preachers out into the world. This is NOT talking about some body of men authorizing a preacher to teach. The authority for preaching comes directly from Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). In fact, this is a point that the Christian Church gets wrong because it does use conferences and societies to send out preachers. The accuracy of preaching is not determined by who "authorizes" the preacher but by how closely what is being taught follows the teachings of the Bible.
What I see is a denominational view of the church being espoused. The attitude that a baptism is not valid unless the person is taught and baptized by one of our preachers changes the emphasis from the truth of the Gospel to which group is financing the teaching. It is a dividing by who is being followed: "Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (I Corinthians 10:12-13). Baptism is into Christ -- period. Who does the baptism is unimportant. What is important is that the baptism is done as Christ requested and for the reason Christ gave.
There is no topic of Christ's teaching that can be taught or practice falsely which will not affect a person's ultimate salvation. The very claim of faith demands that we obey God. Israel could not enter the promise land because of their disobedience. "And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:18-19). It is faith which spurs us to obey God. "Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith -- to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen" (Romans 16:25-27).
When we claim to love God, that love implies we will be obedient. "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3).
In other words disobedience demonstrates that we do not believe God really meant what He said and that we don't really love Him. Obedience is critical to our salvation; thus, every command of God is a "salvation issue."
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13).
"Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:11).
A person can become a Christian correctly, but then be quickly led astray by false teachings on other issues. When a person comes out of false teachings to return to the simple truth, that is reason for rejoicing. "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice" (Philippians 1:18).